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Decision No. 1010

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April 28 2005
In Re: Request from the California-Pacific Annual Conference for a Declaratory Decision on the Constitutionality, Meaning, Application, and Effect of ¶ 359.3c(2) of the 2000 Discipline Concerning Administrative Location.

Digest of Case

The decision of the California-Pacific Annual Conference to place the clergy member on administrative location is reversed. The clergy member must be reinstated to the same status that was held prior to the 2004 Clergy Session of the Annual Conference. The member is entitled to all remuneration and other benefits of that status prior to the 2004 Clergy Session retroactively.

Statement of Facts

At the 2004 session of the California-Pacific Annual Conference, a motion was made by the Board of Ordained Ministry to place a clergy member on administrative location under the provisions of ¶ 359.3c of the 2000 Book of Discipline. A clergy member in full connection moved that the California-Pacific Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church request the following declaratory decision under the provisions of ¶ 2610.2j of the 2000 Discipline on the following questions of church law:

1. When there is a recommendation for administrative location of a Conference member under the provisions of ¶ 359.3a and the respondent requests a hearing under the provisions of ¶ 359.3c(2), is the hearing group defined in ¶ 359.c(2) unconstitutional in the light of Judicial Council Decisions 917 and 950, in that this definition allows the bishop and members of the cabinet to be members of the decision-making body? 2. When there is a recommendation for administrative location of a Conference member under the provisions of ¶ 359.3a and the respondent requests a hearing under the provisions of ¶ 359.3c(2), is the hearing group required to take a vote on whether there should be a recommendation to the annual conference clergy session for administrative location of the respondent?
Jurisdiction
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under ¶ 2610 of the 2000 Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
Paragraph 359.2 of the 2000 Discipline outlines Fair Process in Administrative Hearings. Paragraph 359.3 addresses the procedure for the Disposition of Administrative Complaints. Paragraph 359.3c addresses the requirements for Recommendation to Administrative Location and states that “[t]he requirements of fair process as set forth in ¶ 359.2 shall be followed. . . .” Paragraph 359.3c(1) requires that “pon recommendation of the board of ordained ministry, the annual conference may place members on administrative location.” Next, the Discipline provides for the right of the respondent to a hearing, outlines the process and specifies the requirements of fair process. In addition, Decision 917 states:
The doctrine of separation of powers and the provisions of fair process in administrative hearings prohibit the district superintendent named by the bishop as a representative of the cabinet from participating in the deliberations of the board of ordained ministry, and its committees, and voting in such bodies, on the administrative processes under ¶ 318.6 (involuntary discontinuation of probationary membership), ¶ 356.3 (involuntary retirement), and ¶ 359.3 (administrative complaint). In any such matter, the district superintendent shall not be present for the deliberations and the vote, and shall not discuss with the board of ordained ministry and its committees substantive issues in the absence of the responding clergyperson.
Decision 950 states:
Bishops and district superintendents shall not participate as voting members in a hearing and under the provisions of ¶ 352.1(b) concerning involuntary leave of absence and may not remain in the hearing room either prior to the hearing or after the hearing has been concluded but prior to the issuance of a decision by the executive committee of the conference board of ordained ministry. To do so would violate fair process as established in ¶ 359.2.
Based on Decisions 917 and 950, it is a violation for the district superintendent representing the cabinet on the board of ordained ministry to participate in a hearing regarding a recommendation of administrative location of a clergy, as well as for any and all members of the cabinet, and/or the bishop, to participate in such a hearing other than as a witness, and then only in the presence of the affected clergy. Fair process as outlined was violated. Further, the right to a hearing must meet the requirements of fair process. A hearing without a vote does not satisfy the criteria of fair process. The decision of the California-Pacific Annual Conference to place a clergy member on administrative location under ¶ 359.3c violated the provisions of fair process when it disregarded the Discipline and Decisions 917 and 950.
Decision
The decision of the California-Pacific Annual Conference to place the clergy member on administrative location is reversed. The clergy member must be reinstated to the same status that was held prior to the 2004 Clergy Session of the Annual Conference. The member is entitled to all remuneration and other benefits of that status prior to the 2004 Clergy Session retroactively. Shamwange P. Kyungu was absent. C. Rex Bevins, the first clergy alternate, participated in this decision.

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